Monday, September 20, 2010

What to eat PRE, DURING, & POST Exercise!

Choosing the right foods can optimize your performance regardless of whether you are a pro-athlete or a recreational exerciser.  With a well-planned snack or meal, you can get the nutrients needed to optimize and energize your workouts.  There are a pluthera of supplements, powders, bars, drinks, patches, and God knows what out there in the market.  But why spend extra money on supplements and industry-hype products when you can get the nutrients from a natural source...FOOD! Here is the how-to on the ideal PRE, DURING, & POST exercise meals:

Food = fuel.  You need proper foods to fuel your workouts which should include: quality carbohydrates, lean-protein, healthy fats, and fluids.  Carbohydrates found in breads, pasta, rice, cereals, vegetables, and fruits are your body's main source for fuel as a quick energy source.  Proteins provide the building blocks needed for tissue repair, maintenance, and growth and also maintain healthy cell function.  Fats are a major source of fuel during rest and  can also be mobilized as a fuel source during physical activity when muscle glycogen is depleted.

The ideal PRE exercise meal is:

  • low-fat
  • moderate in carbohydrates and protein
  • contains fluids
It is not necessarily bad to workout on an empty stomach if you are going on an easy walk lets say.  However, for more intense exercise it is good to eat some easy-to-digest carbohydrates like a slice of toast, half a bagel, or a piece of fruit, and take down some water too.  After waking up in the mornings, the overnight fast can deplete glycogen stores so get a quick boost of carbohydrates before exercise and you are good to go!

DURING exercise:
It is SO important to stay hydrated.  Water acts as a cooling system for your body.  Drink water before, during, and after exercise to stay properly hydrated and improve performance.  If you are exercising for prolonged periods of time (more than 60 min.) and/or in hot outdoor conditions you might want to consider a sports drink.  Sports drink have added carbohydrates and sodium to replenish electrolytes lost when you sweat.  

AFTER exercise:
Protein assists in the recovery and growth of muscles.  After exercise is a great time to eat complete proteins because it provides your body with the building blocks for muscle tissue repair and growth.  This does not mean make a gnarly turbo power protein shake with 50 grams of protein right after you get back from your 5 mile run.  More IS NOT better.  Most Americans, including inactive people and athletes consume more than twice the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein.  Most adults only need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day.  (to convert body weight (lbs) to kg divide weight by 2.2)  Ex: A 140 lbs. (63.6 kg) female only needs about 50.9 grams of protein daily.

Eating a high protein diet does not "bulk-up" muscle.  High-protein diets are associated with high cholesterol, may contribute to bone loss, and can increase the risk for kidney disease.  Protein provides the raw materials, it is EXERCISE, specifically resistance training, that allows those raw materials to be used to strengthen and repair muscles.

Remember, FOOD = FUEL.  The more active you are, the more energy or fuel your body needs so choose quality nutrient dense foods, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and get out on that field, court, track, or wherever you love to stay active and as the Black Eyed Peas would say..."ROCK YOUR BODY! come on come on yaaaa ROCK YOUR BODY!" 



  1. Great article Lena. My favorite post workout snack: Trader Joe's non-fat greek yogurt with cut-up fruit (figs, banana, berries, etc.)

  2. thanks silva! that sounds yummmyyyyy

  3. This is a great post! I always wonder what to eat before and after a workout! Thank you!